I Just Wanna Be a Sheep

I can’t explain my fascination, but I was drawn to sheep.

I’m going to let everyone in on an overlooked part of my childhood. Growing up, I was fascinated by sheep. Now, I don’t mean that I had ideas of raising sheep like cattle, pigs, or horses. I mean that lots of decorations and toys were sheep. I can’t explain my fascination, but I was drawn to sheep.

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Perhaps by Providence, this fascination was embedded instinctually in my life. The title for my profession I prefer is Pastor. This is a word that means shepherd. While other clergy go by Reverend, Brother, or other honorifics — Pastor is my preferred title.

The usage of Pastor being a shepherd is rooted in Scripture. King David as psalmist declares that the Lord is [our] Shepherd. Jesus adopts this title and calls Himself the Great Shepherd. He goes on to speak about us as His sheep. We are His flock. We hear His call and recognize His voice. Some of us have been the wayward lone sheep that was lost, and some of us are the more well-behaved 99 that stay close to the shepherd.

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Jesus shortly after His resurrection, confers shepherding duties to Peter. He charges Peter to feed his lambs, feed his sheep, and to tend them. Peter takes up this charge as the leader of the Church first in Judea and later in Rome.

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Somewhat ironically, Jesus is both shepherd and sheep. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus like a shepherd guides and protects His flock. Yet He is also the perfect and unblemished Lamb whose blood has saved us from death. God commanded the Israelites to sacrifice a perfect lamb on the night of Passover to protect them from the Death Angel. Jesus’s sacrifice is the ultimate protection for us.

The Church awaits the day that we worship the Lamb who is seated on the throne. The saints will cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord — the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

I want to close with a contemplative worship song about what it means for us to be a sheep. Listen for the deep implications of the song.

Okay, I couldn’t resist. Credit to Noah Coley for that song.

And now for something completely different.

Come on, if I tried to redirect you with a Monty Python reference, you had to know it was still going to be silly.

Hope all of this gives you a sheepish smile. 😉

Where’s the Beef

So if you choose to eat meat, do so to the glory of God.

If you didn’t already know, this week is National Meat Week. Make sure you have your decorations and party supplies. 😂 I make no bones about my carnivorous tendencies. I have lately given up meat during Lent as my sacrifice. Time will tell if I give that up again this year. I was reminded how much I and others enjoy meat while at the barber shop Saturday.

Haircut Shop Barber Shop Chair Barber HairdresserAs much as guys tease that women will have a hen party and gossip at their hair salons, let me end the suspense; men talk and shoot the bull just as much at the barber shop. Somehow, the two other gentlemen waiting for their haircuts were discussing warm weather and mosquitoes. The discussion turned to how to ward off the skeeters (sorry, that’s just an amusing term I can’t ignore). Then as the discussion was about mosquitoes, it then turned to ticks out in the woods.

the-tick-ss1The middle-aged gentleman proclaimed that it’d suck to get bit by a tick and not be able to eat meat. He suggested that based on his military experience that eating match heads will prevent ticks from latching onto you. (What?)

Okay, back to the meat of the matter. 🥁[ ba-dum-tish] This being National Meat week, I want to encourage everyone that it is okay to be vegetarian or omnivorous. I just dislike the virtue signaling so many have about their vegetarian tendencies. I think you should be convinced in your own mind. I know many Christians choose vegetarianism, and that’s certainly their prerogative.   But, I also know that God has permitted us to eat flesh of animals. God provides that permission to Noah, the first example of God approving us to consume animal flesh.

GenEsis 9_3.pngSo, if you choose to eat meat, do so to the glory of God. Likewise, if you abstain and eat only plant-based foods, do so to the glory of God.

Before I close, two pieces of advice for eating meat:

  1. Steak should be cooked no more than Medium, and Medium rare is actually the better temperature. This is scriptural and can be found in the Book of Paul.

the_holy_bible 2.   Fish meat is practically a vegetable, so be careful how much you eat.

39ca9f84f72672aee984eb80af87cdc9-word-of-wisdom-funny-happy In case you’re not hungry yet, here’s a picture of all kinds of meat.

chilis-smokehouse-combo You should now look something like this.

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MMM…Mac ‘n’ Cheese

People that don’t like macaroni and cheese don’t have souls.

I’m sure as you’ve clicked on the image attached to the blog, you’re already hungry. Macaroni & cheese is one of those dishes that almost everybody likes. I’m convinced that people that don’t like macaroni and cheese don’t have souls (although I’ve not been able to prove it).

Now to cause even more rifts, I am going to talk about the best kind of mac ‘n’ cheese. First, we need to agree that the blue box kind is the Cleveland Browns of mac ‘n’ cheese. Sure, it’s technically mac ‘n’ cheese I guess, but there’s no way that it is even competitive with other recipes.

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The best macaroni and cheese is made by this woman. If you, don’t know her that’s my paternal grandmother, Doris. Lovingly referred to by all of her grandchildren as Mamaw. Mamaw has made macaroni and cheese for Sunday dinner and family gatherings as long as I can remember. I’ve even seen her fix macaroni and cheese when it wasn’t supposed to be on the menu because one of the grandkids asked for some. That’s the kind of Mamaw she is.

I can remember growing up, watching her fix macaroni and cheese and trying to figure out how to make it. I’ll admit, it’s really simple, but it’s because Mamaw makes it, that everyone wants it. I’m sure that many other Mamaws, Nanas, and Grams make their macaroni and cheese the same way, or very similar; but sorry my Mamaw’s is better. Like most old-school grandmothers, Mamaw doesn’t have an exact recipe for her macaroni and cheese. It’s basically boiling dry macaroni and draining it, add milk, butter, and Velveeeta. Stir and season. Then finally let it thicken into a sauce.

I’ll never forget taking Home Ec. (or Family and Consumer Science, as it been renamed during my schooling) and learning a recipe for mac ‘n’ cheese. I came home and was eager to fix it because, the recipe had tasted remarkably like Mamaw’s. I’ve since honed that recipe to taste like Mamaw’s. In fact, Mamaw has even had me fix macaroni and cheese at her house while she is busy with other foods, since I’ve learned the recipe.

Having knowledge of Mamaw’s Macaroni and Cheese is beneficial for me twofold. 1) I can fix the recipe for myself anytime I’m nostalgic for Mamaw’s house, and 2) The recipe won’t be lost when she’s gone.

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Are there any of those special foods your grandmother used to fix that you identify as part of her?

Current Events Friday 2

My post Wednesday about baseball got me thinking about the 2018 players approved for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The final votes were announced late yesterday. I chose to talk about this current event to maintain some sort of entertainment rather than the usual insanity of politics.

Only 4 former players made it in based on the process to be inducted into the Hall of fame. The four players selected were: Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome.

If you’re not familiar with the process, candidates are selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Basically to qualify, a player must have begun play between five to fifteen years prior to the election, they must have been retired at least five years prior to the election, and they should have made a significant contribution to the game of baseball during their career. The official qualifications are somewhat more detailed, but this is just a summary. Players receiving at least 75% of the votes are automatically elected. Players must earn 5% of the votes to continue to be eligible on ballots in successive years.

The 2018 ballot included 33 players, with fourteen meeting the 5% floor to stay on the ballot from previous elections. Now let’s get to my analysis of those elected and those not.

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3B Chipper Jones            

Chipper is not really a surprise on this list. He was well-liked in Atlanta and elsewhere. He never really had any off-the-field distractions that BBWAA writers like to scrutinize and penalize players for in their voting. Jones is one of a growing minority of recent players to remain with one team their entire career. I’ve always thought that Chipper was deserving of any award and he received, so this is a solid decision by BBWAA electors.

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RP Trevor Hoffman

Hoffman is part of a new type of pitcher that BBWAA electors are starting to recognize. The idea of a pitcher coming in every day to pitch one inning was not easily accepted by old-school baseball men. Now watch any sort of MLB analysis and you’ll hear about the bullpen woes of various teams. Teams are always on the lookout for a solid pitcher who can get outs quickly to slot into the closer role. Hoffman was twice a runner-up for Cy Young, almost unusual for a reliever. Hoffman ranks with the top relievers in baseball including HOF reliveve Bruce Sutter. Hoffman again like Jones, was a guy that was respected by all players and writers. I agree with Hoffman’s selection to the HOF. I wouldn’t have minded having Hoffman pitch for the Cubs during their various bullpen struggles.

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OF/DH Vladimir Guerrero

Big Bad Vlad broke in with the now defunct Montreal Expos. A power hitter that terrified pitchers with his bat. Guerrero had a legendary strike zone as small as a refrigerator or as large as a Honda Civic. Vlad was never afraid to swing at anything that came within a yard of the end of his bat. While that sounds foolish, Vlad could usually make contact with those pitches. Again, a guy that BBWAA writers and fans loved based on his large frame, large home runs, and an equally large personality. I’m not surprised by his inclusion in the HOF either. I can only imagine if he would have been given the chance to mash with Sosa et al. on the cubs in the early part of this millennium.

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1B/DH//3B Jim Thome 

Thome broke in with the Cleveland Indians in 1991, and spent more than a decade with the team, along with productive years in Philadelphia and Chicago. Thome benefited from years of playing in the AL and their unique attraction — the DH. Thome like the other 3 mentioned, not surprisingly was respected by players and writers alike. I was a little surprised at Thome, but he had a solid career with lots of power. To Thome’s credit, his numbers never seemed to be questioned as a product of chemical aids like others during the same time of his career.

OF Barry Bonds, P Roger Clemens, P Curt Schilling  

I grouped these three together because the BBWAA has repeatedly kept these three out based on accusations of Performance Enhancing Drugs. These three have all denied usage of such substances and have also been polarizing in their personalities. I’ll admit that I’ve had my problems with Bonds and Clemens to be sure, but I’m reminded that a drop of  HGH or testosterone don’t usually affect hand-eye coordination needed to make contact with the ball or cause a batter to miss. Looking purely at numbers and not all the circus outside of it, the BBWAA should vote at least Bonds and Clemens in. Even if some writers can’t swallow that, that’s what an asterisk (*) is for, right Bud Selig?

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OF Johnny Damon

Johnny Damon getting snubbed and not even making the 5% cutoff in his first year is baffling. He played remarkably for Oakland, Boston, and New York in almost twenty years of play. With Boston and New York he was able to win World Series titles. Damon compared to other players should be in the HOF. Per Baseball Reference, Damon compares to these 10 players. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are in the HOF already. Damon was a fun player, that everybody liked and was productive most of his career.

  1. Vada Pinson
  2. Steve Finley
  3. Paul Molitor *
  4. Tim Raines  *
  5. Roberto Alomar *
  6. Al Oliver
  7. Robin Yount  *
  8. Lou Brock  *
  9. Bobby Abreu
  10. Roberto Clemente  *

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OF Sammy Sosa

He hit much home runs. He a Cub. Let him in.

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SS Omar Vizquel

The most recognizable shortstop from Venezuela since Luis Aparicio, Vizquel grew up watching his countryman excel in MLB. Vizquel requested permission to wear Aparicio’s 11 during his tenure with the White Sox. Vizquel was a solid contact hitter and plus defender. He was also well-liked by everyone in baseball circles, and is still contributing as a coach. As with Damon, 10 players most similar to Vizquel as rated by Baseball Reference, and again asterisk indicates HOF player:

  1. Luis Aparicio  *
  2. Rabbit Maranville  *
  3. Ozzie Smith  *
  4. Bill Dahlen
  5. Dave Concepcion
  6. Luke Appling  *
  7. Pee Wee Reese  *
  8. Nellie Fox  *
  9. Jimmy Rollins
  10. Herman Long

Thankfully for Vizquel, he got halfway to the necessary 75% needed, so there’s hope.

What are your thoughts? Do you disagree with some of the snubs?

Am I My Brother’s Keeper

Ross and I had our moments of enjoyment with one another, but more often than not, that was the exception rather than the rule.

The picture above of my brother Ross and I is misleading to most. Sure we look happy and agreeable. Of course most photos are posed and everybody smiles. Sure Ross and I had our moments of enjoyment with one another, but more often than not, that was the exception rather than the rule.

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This was probably a more appropriate picture — Cain and Abel. Now let me be clear, I don’t think I ever thought about murdering Ross. I will admit that I did say hateful things that may have made him assume I had those thoughts. I hope that as we’ve gotten older and matured, that Ross has forgiven me for the hostility I made him endure.

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If this picture is any indication, we do get along very well now. He has grown into an intelligent, kind, and loving man. In spite of all the hateful thoughts I thrust upon him, he has also become a loving and devoted husband and father of two boys. I’d like to think his boys will get along better than their father and uncle.

27164248_1221653851312849_3798929643864311057_o The photo my sister-in-law posted of Blaize and Storm, my two little nephews indicate the jury may still be out on their relationship. Blaize does seem to love his little brother Storm, but he still is prone to jealousy like his Uncle Ryan. Luckily for these two, their ages are a lot closer than Ross and me. I’m sure that as these two rascals observe the current relationship between their Daddy and Uncle, they’ll learn the right way.

(Note: I had asked Ross to provide some of his own thoughts, but with his busy schedule he wasn’t able to meet my deadline. I’m hopeful to still include him in a blog post at a later date.)

In closing, I take comfort that Ross has proven to be the brother celebrated by King Solomon. I’d like to think that as I’ve matured, I have done well to try to be that same brother, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)

 

 

 

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

-George Carlin

I was reminded that blogging shouldn’t always be catharsis and self-deprecation, so with that in mind today’s post is a ‘fun’ post.

Baseball is completely different than other sports. There’s no set time limit, the manger dresses like players, the fields are all unique for each team, only the offense can steal, the defense throws the ball. All these unique qualities combine for what we call America’s pastime. Comedian George Carlin explains the appeal far better than me.

 

Image result for george carlinNow, I’ve mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

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Now I’ll admit, there was a time I thought the sport was boring and refused to watch it. I played tee ball in kindergarten, and helped my brother’s little league teams; that was the extent of anything resembling baseball until my freshmen year of college. My roommates grew up in Da Region rooting for the Chicago Cubs. Now when you’re bored in college, and nothing else on TV you watch the Cubs. It was that freshmen year I fell in love with baseball. If you’d have asked me before that year, my favorite sport was football. I’ve slowly become ‘that old guy’ who watches baseball and most football. I do also watch some hockey and most NASCAR. I rarely watch basketball, which I joke is probably grounds for my Hoosier citizenship to be revoked.

I notice that baseball is more an old-folk’s game. This is evidenced by the lack of quality MLB games since EA’s MVP Baseball franchise. Microsoft and XBOX recently allowed Sony and PlayStation to have complete rights to MLB games. I haven’t played the PlayStation game in forever, and doubt I will. I don’t expect a new or better version to come out since the video game market is driven by Millennials and Generation-Z, and those generations are fickle and uninterested in baseball. Oh sure, they root for teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cardinals; I’d say that’s thanks to those teams’ branding efforts. Ask them who Dodger pioneer Branch Rickey began his baseball executive career with, and the response will likely be the Dodgers. (By the way, it was the St. Louis Browns).

I hope that Terrence Mann’s prophecy rings true and baseball will become popular again. It’s had its ebbs and flows before, so there’s at least a smidgen of hope that we see it’s return to national prominence.

So root, root, for the home team. If they don’t win, it’s a shame. For its one, two, three strikes — you’re out! at the old ball game.

Lonely, I Am So Lonely

What had began with so much promise last winter came crashing down some 10 months later.

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Lonely I’m so lonely
I have nobody
To call my own
I’m so lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely
I have nobody
To call my own
I’m so lonely.

These lyrics begin the 2005 song “Lonely” by R&B artist Akon. While the cartoon voice and the catchy beat are a memorable earwig for Gen-Y & Millennials, I have been feeling the sentiment strongly as of late. My first real long-term relationship ended a little over a month ago, and it has wreaked havoc on me spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Now I know I’ve got a heart, ’cause it’s breaking. 

What had began with so much promise last winter came crashing down some 10 months later. If I am honest I should have seen red flags and warning signs before it ended. I have been in the state of loneliness for some 15 or so years and was willing to overlook issues in the name of being in a relationship. We had spent time with each other’s families, spent holidays together, decorated my house, and many other serious activities. We were planning for a future together, but even with all that it was not enough to keep us together. I’m not going to play the blame game, there’s plenty to go around for both of us.

Back to the topic at hand-Loneliness. We all have moments of loneliness, even those who have been married for several decades. The key is to manage our bouts of loneliness, and it’s evil stepsister depression. We need a support system of friends and family to be sure. We also benefit from professional help from ministers, psychologists, counselors, and mentors. I’m grateful for my support system that has supported and encouraged me in this season of my life I now find myself again.

I am working on being aware of my loneliness, and resisting the urge to jump into the deep end again just to avoid being single. I really need to make peace with this season of my life. I’m hoping the cathartic nature of blogging and sharing will help me to spot the potential pitfalls that could await me.

Whatever the case, none of us are ever truly lonely. Jesus promises not to leave us all by ourselves.Jn 14_18.png

So, while I may be lonely, I’m not completely alone. Thanks to Jesus being there for me, and everyone who supports me, especially those of you reading this.